2004 Black Rock City Art Installations
American Tar Pit
Many plants and creatures were caught in the ancient tar pits that bubbled up in what is
now the City of Los Angeles. What would be caught in a metaphoric tar pit created by our current world situation?
Ascension of the Man
The metal frames and jungle greenery of Xara enclose a theater space for the Muytators burn night show. The dancers’ stage is built around a pit from which issues light, smoke and special effects. A pair of cranes flank the stage, suspending a 40′ span of box truss and supporting lights, fire cannons, and aerial performances. Rows of poles, topped with the Mutaytors six-fingered hand logo, line a promenade from the entrance to the dancers stage.
Bantey Srey, described as the jewel of ancient Cambodian architecture and art, is the citadel of women, where the Vault of Heaven curves, time and space collapses and a Conic structure forms and settles into the sacred symbol of the Yoni. Bantey Srey welcomes everyone into the womb of creation where things lie down to rest as a way to make room for new concepts to be created and born.
The Beholder is an anthropomorphic metal sculpture that incorporates a uniquely positioned refracting telescope with which one can view the Vault of Heaven.
A 4′ tall miniature faux ruin built on site using 1/2″ x 3/4″ playa mud bricks and tiny bamboo ladders was surrounded by 6 2′ tall towers housing superbrite blue LEDs and a stretched cloth and bamboo structure, lit with red LED’s, which acted as a flower to attract participants to the subtler intricate miniature city within.
Chairway to Heaven
At nearly 40 feet tall, Chairway to Heaven affords the best view of the Man, the playa and the Vault of Heaven! Yes, that’s right, it’s a ride! Reminiscent of the old carnival “ring the bell, win a prize” towers… except participants are the weight that slides to the top of the tower.
A flaming tetherball swoops and spirals through the night: tick… tick… keeping accurate playa time. Perpetual motion? No. Powered by time-flow vortices? Perhaps. Top scientists in the field are baffled and mesmerized.
Cloke of Knavery
Two life sized swimming human figures are constructed of mild steel, tile mosaic scuba tanks and poured glass fins.
Crankable Op Circus
Crankable Op Circus is a kinetic sculpture installation with spinning Op art discs and a movable figure. The sculptures are circled by vertical columns that emit a soothing subtle light.
Dragons of Eden: Night of a Thousand Stars... featuring The Transsister
The Veil of Religion is fallen! The Heart of the Dragon is revealed… Oh my God! It’s filled with Stars! The Transsister dances through swirling rainbows of stars in the core of the Dragon’s pavilion. The Seven Dragons meld and sing with the dancer in a symbiosis of fire and light and funk.
Earth Turner (Turning Man)
A rusty chain sculpture of a being pulling the earth eastward in its rotation, “Turning Man” rotates Earth through the vault of heaven. He is constructed of rusty industrial chain and is 6′ tall. Participants feel the enormity of his task.
El Diablo is a flame effects device that uses a jet engine from a military aircraft to produce colored flames that illuminate the night sky.
The Eye Arch was created out of some intuitive compulsion to experience a crude, self directed and excruciating rite of passage ritual. The Archway itself can be seen as a passage, or portal, overseen by an ambiguous and perhaps menacing presence, in the form of a stoic, all seeing Watcher. The experience of building it has far more resonance than the object itself, though the object remains as a monument to that experience. it’s curious how things can unfold, lead back to themselves, and suggest a flexible flow of possible meanings,
none really consciously planned. It nagged me for years to build it. I tried not to, but eventually got some people together and we did. And it turned out that that was the right and necessary thing to do. Enormous thanks to all who helped out.
Eyes Of Gawd Resurrected
In 2003 Jim Bowers and the TriBe floated the Eyes of Gawd 150′ over the playa. In 20004 Gawd will be resurrected! This 26′ by 8′ el wire sculpture is a pair of eerie blue glowing eyes that blink, look left and right, and more. Participants will be encouraged to send Gawd commands via a wireless remote control garage door opener.
An extreme experimental pyro-industrial art-punk rock-band project by Mobilization.com founders Scot Jenerik (23five.org) and Ethan Port (Savage Republic), F-Space conjures an apocalyptic, feral, destructive trance state implying a catastrophic act of nature, a march through the desert on the path to war, or an offender’s mental state during a crime of passion.
Utilizing the ever present playa winds, this mobile extends its three 40′ red hinged arms out and back in sweeping gestures, inviting participants into its space, then pushing them back out again. The steel structural skeleton holding the arms in place makes an inviting perch to watch the dynamics of the wind dance going on below.
A human figure made of steel stands approximately 10 feet tall and holds a glass blowing pipe with a blown glass gather on the end of it.
Homage To The Eternal
Homage to the Eternal is a multicultural, three-dimensional, interactive prayer flag installation inspired by and dedicated to our friend and mentor who lost her battle with breast cancer last October.
Hula Homie Heaven
45 windwhirls are housed around a hand-cranked disk on which are mounted 96 Hula/ Homie figurines with wings. Participants turn the crank and everyone whirls.
A figure sunk deep into the sand slowly emerges and struggles to be set free. Illuminated by lights flashing at various speeds, this six piece plaster sculpture explores what it is to be human in various spaces and times.
The Improbable Orchestra (IO) is an interactive audio sculpture. Visually enticing and mysterious sets of knobs and buttons are laid out to lure a passer-by into experimenting with the sculpture.
Iraq War Memorial
Over 900 automotive dipsticks are suspended above 18 oil drip pans. Protruding 6" from the playa floor are over 12,000 black bamboo skewers, completely encompassing the oil pans in a 6′ x 36′ rectangle. Each dipstick is personalized with a piece of printed acetate transparency with the name, branch and rank in the US military, and date of death of each US soldier killed during the Iraq War. Each black bamboo skewer represents one Iraqi civilian who has died as a result of the war. Each oil pan/dipstick grouping represents one month of the war. Viewers are confronted with a visual chronology of the high cost of war as well as the overwhelming disparity between US and Iraqi lives lost as a result.
A basket of live cactii is suspended from an 18′ boom attached to a 16′ flagpole. Next to it is a 16′ long spaceship-like navigator sculpture. Nearby sits Istalan, an ancient miniature village beneath a boulder.
The project is a sacred space of prayer flags, poetry and photography with an invitation to leave something behind… to be compassionately received, blessed and burned with the man.
The Light house is resurrected out of the burnt remains of a Victorian house. It is symbolic of rising out of the ashes and of the intimate manifestation of a leap into the inner realms of imagination into the Vaults of Heaven.
Two of the fire-breathing lilies from Lotus Land in 2002 return to the playa and grace the entrance to the walkway to the Man, at the promenade.
This spinning peace sign is made of recycled found objects.
Official Free Speech Zone
The project is a recursive examination of post-radical self-expression within the freedom-protecting safety of the official BRC Free Speech Zone. True radical inclusion requires its officially sanctioned boundaries. Only when officials (from LDH to GHWB) know that speakers value their speech enough to protect it within a safe zone, are those officials, and all people they represent, truly free.
Oracle Life-Aware Flag
The Life-Aware Flag has shapes and colors that represent different key principles, lessons, and aspirations of life. It is unique among flags in that it does not represent any one country, nor any particular group of persons, but key principles of life. This art installation is the public debut of the flag. Five flag poles are arranged in a star pattern.The Oracle is at the base of the center flag pole.
Four orange high-school lockers contain notebooks, notes, art and miscellania from that period of one’s life.
An 8′ tall pedestrian crossing figure marches across the playa.
Pendulum Of Fire
This swinging propane-powered pendulum breathes fire from four apertures.
Participants can swim with the fish out on the perimeter fence past the man. They can stop by BlinKINgman Camp and pick up a lure to name their own fish, adopt one, clean one and create a story to share with others when the playa returns to its natural state.
A monstrous alien fire pod crashed into Lake Lahontan 15 thousand years ago. As the Lake has dried up and the wind has taken its toll, the pod has been exposed as an ancient relic. Not all is as it appears under the hot desert sun and the inert fire pod may ignite into bloom, sending a new fire pod into the galaxy.
Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots
You’re walking along the Playa thinking about your childhood and how simple it was to be amused. Suddenly, as a mirage, two robots loom before you. It’s Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots, from your youth, but this time they’re big enough to knock *your* block off. You climb into the boxing ring and climb into the Blue Bomber, and suddenly you’ve become an 8 foot tall robot fighting machine. Your trusty companion grabs hold of the steering controls outside the ring, while your two combatants gear up in the Red Rocker. The hot arena lights pound down on you while the crowd cheers you on. You hear the bell ring, and the fight is on!
A wood and mixed-media sculpture of Shiva Nataraja dancing to support the vault of heaven rests on a tubular steel frame and a steel base.
Sky Barrel: A Repose for Scattered Minds
In a white playa landscape a cylinder looms. Here one observes the object in all its austere visual contrast, individuality in a sea of randomness. Inside the cylinder, thoughts are transformed and focused as light washes in from the universe above. Through the cylinder envelope, a hint of the world around is barely visible.
These 8′ letters stand in remembrance of Gary’s older brother Steven M. Richards — June 15, 1967 – March 21, 2004
Ten horizontal windmills with wooden legs and copper blades create sound as they rotate.
Souvenirs is an international flag display similar to those commonly seen in front government buildings. Closer inspection reveals that these flags, symbols of nationalism and patriotism, are actually rent and torn, shot full of holes thereby reflecting the violence inherent in world politics, nationalism and blind patriotism.
A spiral of rainbow colored tubes twirls in the wind.
That Which I Do
That Which I Do is a lone golden doorway leading to truth and remembrance.
A Tribute to Ruth Sense
Aural transgression of supersonic pain is inflicted upon the unsuspecting traveler departing from this world and disembarking in the next. A Tribute to Ruth Sense makes spinning noises that will disturb, perturb and delight; allowing participants to fly high in the vault of the heavens while physically remaining grounded on the playa.
Tunnel of Transformation and the Nausts
One can walk through fire by passing through a large, circular metal arch/hearth while its contents burn. It is flanked by the four Nausts, mobile metal carriages which also function as hearths, burning wood as they are pushed around the playa.
Untethered is the earth breaking free of tradition’s chains. A four foot roundstock frame globe with stainless steel continents is supported by four lengths of link welded chains.
Whirling Holy Bliss
This kinetic and sacred union of a dragonfly and a butterfly represents the consistent change of direction thru metamorphosis and recycling. The wingspan of the piece is sixteen feet across and it stands seven and a half feet tall.
You are the Cleu!
“You are the Cleu!” is a spiral of circles and stands almost eight feet tall. The outer circle of the Cleu represents the Universe, the Cosmos and the Vault of Heaven which contains all that exists. The Earth is represented by the largest inner circle, with Life, the smallest circle, balanced upon it. The final circle representing Consciousness surrounds Life like a halo, connecting us all to the Vault of Heaven. At night, the Cleu is lit by El-wire, with the stars and all of Black Rock City framed by its circles, reminding us of our cosmic origins.